The American Electric Power Foundation is funding a new pilot initiative with Ohio's Columbus State Community College Foundation to launch a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) dual enrollment program at Columbus City high schools. The Credits CountSM program is expected to begin in fall 2014 at West High School and will expand to four additional high schools over the next five years, according to Nicholas K. Akins, president and chief executive officer of AEP and chairman of the AEP Foundation.
"Far too often, we hear of barriers such as the cost of tuition that keep our students from moving on to higher education and reaching their career aspirations," Akins said. "Our goal is to help students become fully prepared to graduate from high school ready for a career or with a significant number of credit hours toward a college education."
"Credits Count expands access to a college credential, ensures affordability for Columbus students and families, and aligns with regional career opportunities," said Columbus State Community College President David Harrison. "This partnership will eliminate uncertainty by providing a planned pathway to college and career success."
The major components of the program include:
- Middle school STEM experiences to engage students as early as possible in college exploration for STEM-related careers;
- College course readiness assessments to identify gaps in writing, math and reading that may need tutoring support;
- Summer bridge program to provide any needed English and math remediation prior to students entering the dual enrollment program;
- Dual enrollment in high school and at Columbus State, allowing students to graduate high school with at least 12 college credits in STEM-related fields including energy, the environment and information technology.
"Partnerships such as this provide our students with opportunities they might not otherwise realize existed. They begin to see the connection between college and careers at a much earlier age. This is an exciting opportunity for students from middle school through high school to not only explore careers, but also to make significant progress toward achieving their dreams," said Columbus City Schools Superintendent Dan Good. "Our school administrators are very excited to begin the work necessary to ensure the success of this effort."
The program will reach nearly 3,000 students to assess college readiness. Of those students, 1,300 will participate in a summer bridge program to improve math and English skills; about 780 middle school students will participate in a summer STEM college experience; and about 670 students will receive for-credit college-level coursework while completing high school.
This initiative supports a key recommendation of the Columbus Education Commission – that all students be given pathways to college and a career.
"Columbus is blessed with a rich blend of community champions who demonstrate their commitment every day," said Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman. "This creative partnership among the AEP Foundation, Columbus State and Columbus City Schools will create new educational opportunities for our kids."
According to Akins, the AEP Foundation will pilot the program in Columbus, with the expectation of expanding it to other areas of AEP's 11-state service territory.
The American Electric Power Foundation is funded by American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP) and its utility operating units. The Foundation provides a permanent, ongoing resource for charitable initiatives involving higher dollar values and multi-year commitments in the communities served by AEP and initiatives outside of AEP's 11-state service area.
The Foundation focuses on improving lives through education from early childhood through higher education in the areas of science, technology, engineering, math and the environment and by meeting basic needs for emergency shelter, affordable housing and the elimination of hunger. Other Foundation support may be offered to protect the environment, support healthcare and safety, and enrich life through art, music and cultural heritage.
The AEP Foundation is based in Columbus, Ohio.